6 Important E-commerce Personalization Mistakes Every Business Must Avoid

Written by Natasha

So you’re looking to implement e-commerce personalization based on customer information and Big Data into your business? Here’s what you need to watch out for before embarking on this path. Making any of these e-commerce personalization mistakes can jeopardize your attempt to personalize and have you losing customers and sales instead of increasing them.

Save yourself from the huge amount of effort and money being wasted by avoiding the e-commerce personalization mistakes listed below.

ecommerce personalization mistakes to avoid
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Save your business from slipping on these e-commerce personalization mistakes

1. Not having sufficient data

To be able to personalize means providing your potential customers with content relevant to them and which suit their personal interests. This is not possible without customer data. Customer data helps you understand who your customers are, what your customers are looking for, how to persuade them and what they are willing to pay. The types of data that help you achieve this include demographic data, past purchase data and website/app activity data of each individual customer.

Data is the foundation of a personalized marketing campaign and even marketing in general. As famous social media scientist Dan Zarella says, “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed”. The basis of good personalized marketing is understanding your customers and that’s just what data helps you do.

Having wrong or insufficient data and information is an e-commerce personalization mistake that will jeopardize your personalization campaign from the get-go.

As confusing and overwhelming as it sounds to gather and manage data of hundreds of thousands of potential customers and their activity, all you need is a simple and well-functioning Big Data analytics system and a CRM system to avoid this e-commerce personalization mistake.

While CRM is key in retaining existing customers, Big Data analytics is key in converting potential customers and retaining existing customers. Every e-commerce business out there doing personalization right has these two systems in operation.

For an effective personalization strategy, make sure you have appropriate systems in place to gather, manage and make sense of accurate and sufficient customer data.

2. Outdated Data

As discussed above, we’ve established how important customer data is to personalization. Then it goes without saying that expired and outdated customer data is also a key e-commerce personalization mistake.

An old table in Herculaneum, demonstrating that if you would be nonsense to generate personalized offers for outdated dat ain the past.
E-commerce data can be as solid as possible, but it needs to be fresh and new at the same time. The people who dined at this table passed away long time ago. The fresher the data, the easier it is to reach and personalize for the right people with Big Data and Data Science methods.

Customer behavior is bound to change over time. One of the simple realities of human life is that it goes through phases. As customers go through life phases, their wants, needs and interests shift. Multiple time based variables are responsible for this change in customer behaviour, these include seasons, holidays, trends, life events, ageing etc. This all means that your customer data has a life span and will expire.

Collecting data is not a one-time task, it needs to be an established routine. As a business, it is important you keep on track with refreshing your customer data. Keeping up with your customers and their changing habits is a key part of a good personalization strategy.

For an effective personalization campaign, make sure your data is current and refreshed in a timely manner. With a proper Big Data systems, Data Science analysis and a CRM system, this will not be a challenge. It only requires initiation from the business.

3. One-dimensional personalized segmentation/targeting

This is one e-commerce personalization mistake a lot of the newcomers tend to get wrong or misunderstand. The concept of personalization is not one-dimensional, it’s multi-dimensional. Because as humans, your customers are not one-dimensional characters.

As people, there are many variables that make us who we are and define what we might like or want. You are not just Person A from City X. Personalization on one dimension such as that will not be very effective.

You are a special Person A:

  • a female from City X
  • who is a healthy food enthusiast
  • that shops mostly on Sundays
  • and is an early adopter who likes to try new products,
  • but can be price-conscious.

This is one example of multi-dimensional segmentation. If this is an identified significant segment of your customer base, it is key to personalize and market in such a way that incorporates all of these factors. This will yield the best results.

Example: promote to Customer A content related to female-oriented health supplements that are new to the market, price-friendly or which are currently on sale.

The more targeted and relevant your content, the higher your engagement and conversion rates will be.

To avoid this e-commerce personalization mistake of one-dimensional personalizing, it is important you have a well-functioning Big Data Analytics system in operation. A Big Data Analytics system will take in all the millions of customer demographics and behaviour data variables and Data Science methods help then to transform them to produce multi-dimensional market segments. You must then develop personalized discounts, email campaigns, advertisement concepts or any other relevant marketing content that focus on a multi-dimensional approach.

For more examples on well-done personalization, check out our articles on the best examples of personalization and best examples of personalized e-mail marketing.

4. Overdoing it

Just because you can do it does not mean you should overindulge. This golden rule applies to personalization as well. The results of personalizing can be tempting and it may have you thinking you should pump out more and more content. But there is such a thing as being too personalized, and customers don’t like that.

It’s like walking into a store and having a sales assistant follow you around indefinitely while making suggestions non-stop. No one likes being bombarded, even if it’s personalized. Sometimes customers want to be left to their own devices.

Overdoing your personalization is an e-commerce personalization mistake that will leave customers overwhelmed and irritated and is counter-active to the personalization goal of enhancing the customer shopping experience.

For an effective personalized campaign, make sure you find that sweet spot of a well-balanced personalization strategy. Space out your personalization activities, focus on quality over quantity; build quality personalized content based on quality data and the rest will follow suit.

5. Getting too personal

There are many instances of businesses getting a little too personal with personalized marketing and scaring away customers. We as customers ourselves have come across an ad or two at least once in our life that seemed to cross the line. Intrusive and intimate advertising can make your customers feel like they are being stalked and watched.

To avoid this e-commerce personalization mistake, keep your personalization professional; set clear boundaries of what data you incorporate into personalizing, avoid mentioning unnecessary data points in advertising and choose your wording carefully.

And most importantly be upfront, transparent, and honest with how you use your data so customers will understand. Sticking to and abiding by data privacy protection laws in place is a good start.

After all, customers like a personalized experience. It is the sneaking around and unnecessary privacy violations that they do not like.

6. Getting lazy – Repeating content

And lastly but not least, personalization is no excuse to keep recycling your marketing content. Convincing your customer takes a bit more than shoving what they want in their face. Presentation matters in personalization and can make a real difference.

People get tired of seeing the same old email, the same old ad and the same old message, personalized or not.

There are some great examples of businesses using personalization in unique and appealing ways. Your personalization approach will differ and depend on the industry you’re occupying.

Keep your presentation and content fresh, get creative with your personalization and have fun with it. On top of the basic personalization methodologies, use your personalization strategy as a competitive advantage and unique selling point.

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